‘Swiss mechanism not to tackle medicine sanctions problem’

February 4, 2020 - 16:31

TEHRAN – The Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) will not remove the impact of unfair U.S. sanctions on the import of medicine by Iran, as it is not capable of carrying money in large scale, deputy health minister for legal affairs has said.

The ministry of health welcomes every mechanism that eases supply of medicine and medical equipment using all the available capacities to patients, especially those with cancer and rare diseases, Karim Hemmati said, IRNA reported on Monday.

However, the financial mechanism launched recently by Switzerland cannot solve the problem of supplying necessary medicines and transferring money to purchase them, he lamented.

Last week, Iran could make three payments through the Geneva-based BCP bank through trial operations, the deals included the supply of different medicines from a Swiss pharmaceutical company, valued at around €2.3 million.

On Sunday, 180,000 packages of medicines needed for organ transplant patients were imported to the country utilizing the SHTA.

Although food and medicine were claimed to be exempted from the U.S. sanctions, financial and banking sanctions have limited the life-saving medicine trade which harshly targeted the patients suffering from rare diseases.

Moreover, fears of falling afoul of Washington have restricted exports to Iran.

Exemptions for humanitarian trade (such as food, medicine, and medical equipment) have not been effective in protecting Iranian patients from access to imported medicine, such as the bandages used for patients suffering Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare genetic disease that causes painful blistering of the skin.

With the return of sanctions, over a year (May 2018-May 2019), 15 patients covered by EB Health House lost their lives, including Ava, a two-year-old girl in Ahvaz city, who died of infection and lack of skincare.

Companies exclusively producing medicine for Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) patients, such as BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. of the U.S. and a South Korean company, have refused to export these drugs to Iran, threatening the lives of 335 patients in Iran.

FB/MG

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